Times, they are a-changin’
Since Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook back in 2004, we’ve seen transformative shifts in how both individuals and brands use it (which has been extremely exciting to watch through the marketing lens). Leaders have moved beyond simple Facebook pages and one-off campaigns to a holistic content strategy approach, in which their Facebook is fully integrated into their overall communications effort. Facebook marketing is no longer in its infancy—it’s just one piece in the larger marketing puzzle with a constantly evolving infrastructure. Ready to dive in?
The end of Facebook’s free lunch
Let’s take a little journey back in time. In the late 2000s, Facebook began evolving from a simple peer-to-peer network into an organic—or free—marketing tool for businesses with an emphasis on creating engaging and interesting content that people actually liked. However, as fate would have it, our news feeds began to get cluttered with spammy content from brands that saw it as a distribution channel rather than a relationship management tool. As a result, Facebook figuratively stopped giving out lunch for free and enhanced its algorithm to actively reduce the amount of organic content visible to users. This move changed the game.
Fast forward to 2016. Quality, engaging content is still a significant piece of the puzzle—but it’s no longer enough for brands that are newer or unestablished in the market. With these algorithmic shifts over the past few years, Facebook has become far more of a “pay-to-play” channel. It’s our general philosophy and, more importantly, a universal truth that putting targeted dollars behind your content is now the best way to ensure it reaches and resonates with the right individuals, in the right place, at the right time. Consumers will be appreciative that you’re tailoring content to each of them specifically, and with luck, will grow into an army of loyal brand ambassadors.
Paid content vs. ads
Now you might be asking, how does paid Facebook content differ from Facebook ads? Many marketers use the terms interchangeably. The simple answer is that it doesn’t—paid content IS technically an ad, but it’s just one type of ad offered by Facebook. Rather than drive a hard sale, it’s primary intention is to display a brand’s [already created] content to the most relevant audience using targeted ad dollars. In addition to paid content, Facebook offers several other ad types that are designed to accomplish a variety of brand objectives.
“Paid content is always an ad, but an ad is not always paid content.” — Websavant Proverb
What if Facebook advertising isn’t in my budget?
We get it. Maybe you just launched your brand, or haven’t included Facebook advertising into your current business plan—that’s okay. There are a variety of best practices that can still put your content to work for you, and although it may be an uphill battle, a well thought out organic content strategy can make you the exception to the rule. Like we said, organic content is based on the assumption that you have to earn your way into the newsfeed with great content that people love. Most organic Facebook posts don’t focus on the hard sell, because selling is rarely interesting enough to drive engagements.
Whether you’re launching a new brand or trying to re-invigorate your Facebook strategy, we’re here to help. Shoot us a note for a free copy of our Facebook Primer for Business, which covers best practices for organic & paid content, how to correctly set up and manage pages and ad accounts using Business Manager, ad objectives, campaign structure and best practices for targeting.